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Disrupting activities in quality improvement initiatives: a qualitative case study of the QuICR Door-To-Needle initiative
  1. Jo-Louise Huq1,2,
  2. Jaana Woiceshyn1
  1. 1 Strategy and Global Management, Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  2. 2 PolicyWise for Children and Families, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jo-Louise Huq, Haskayne School of Business University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 2A1, Canada; jlhuq{at}


Background Healthcare quality improvement (QI) efforts are ongoing but often create modest improvement. While knowledge about factors, tools and processes that encourage QI is growing, research has not attended to the need to disrupt established ways of working to facilitate QI efforts.

Objective To examine how a QI initiative can disrupt professionals’ established way of working through a study of the Alberta Stroke Quality Improvement and Clinical Research (QuICR) Door-to-Needle Initiative.

Design A multisite, qualitative case study, with data collected through semistructured interviews and focus groups. Inductive data analysis allowed findings to emerge from the data and supported the generation of new insights.

Findings In stroke centres where improvements were realised, professionals’ established understanding of the clinical problem and their belief in the adequacy of existing treatment approaches shifted—they no longer believed that their established understanding and treating the clinical problem were appropriate. This shift occurred as participants engaged in specific activities to improve quality. We identify these activities as ones that create urgency, draw professionals away from regular work and encourage questioning about established processes. These activities constituted disrupting action in which both clinical and non-clinical persons were engaged.

Conclusions Disrupting action is an important yet understudied element of QI. Disrupting action can be used to create gaps in established ways of working and may help encourage professionals’ involvement and support of QI efforts. While non-clinical professionals can be involved in disrupting action, it needs to engage clinical professionals on their own terms.

  • disrupting action
  • quality improvement
  • qualitative research
  • case study
  • inductive data analysis
  • organisational theory

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  • Contributors All the authors contributed equally.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was obtained for the research (Ethics ID: REB17-0081).

    Ethics approval was provided by the University of Calgary Conjoint Health Research Ethics Board (CHREB)

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Data are available upon reasonable request.